Featured Trip: Brewers Spring Training and the Grand Canyon
March 9-13, 2012
Tavia Vincent, a Fox World Travel Business Travel Specialist in our Corporate Travel Division recently traveled to Arizona and brought back some great insight for our travelers looking to visit the area during Spring Training for Baseball. Fox World Travel assists travelers in getting to vacation spots worldwide, including many popular domestic locations. Contact a travel agent if you would like assistance planning your U.S. Vacation!
My family and I are avid Brewers fans so when I heard the spring training games were being played over my kids Spring Break from school I couldn’t resist! Throw in a one day trip to the Grand Canyon and lots of sunshine and you’ve got yourself a nice long weekend to enjoy!
We flew out of Milwaukee on AirTran non-stop to Phoenix. The flight was uneventful; however, I will point out this tidbit: AirTran does not have a separate line for checking bags if you have already pre-paid the luggage fee, checked in online and printed your boarding passes. You must stand in the regular check in line and wait
We stayed at the Residence Inn Phoenix (Apollo 15424). I chose this hotel for a few reasons; one it was a great price and two, it was only 10 minutes from Maryvale Stadium. This hotel is set up more like a condo than a hotel. There are three levels of rooms and no elevators. The buildings are set in a U shape and in the middle are the pool, sports court, front desk, and dining area. We had a studio suite that had one queen bed and a sleeper sofa, large kitchen, desk, and bathroom with a separate sink/vanity area from the shower and toilet. You could tell the hotel had been renovated as it had the newer linens, granite countertops, and new carpet. Although this hotel is located in a residential area there were plenty of restaurants nearby as well as a grocery store and K-mart for any needed essentials. The hotel was full and by the looks of it with people attending spring training games. At breakfast it was amazing to see all the different team apparel!
I was able to get tickets to the game through the Brewer ticket office. I called the day tickets went on sale and snagged seats 7 rows back from home plate for $22 per person. What I didn’t take into consideration when I thought I got the deal of the century was that the game we went to was a split squad game and half the team was over in Scottsdale playing another game at the same time. This left my kids a little sad as they really wanted to see Ryan Braun (and let’s face it, so did I) but they were able to get Jonathan Lucroy’s autograph! The stadium at Maryvale is a newer facility that reminds me of the Timber Rattler’s stadium. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house, not even the grass seats! And as with any sporting event, the concession stands are pricey so be prepared! This was our first time to a spring training game and I learned a lot. For those of you that also haven’t had the chance but want to go, here are a few pointers. The players are on a rotation so if you want to see the whole team ‘play’ you need to attend more than one game. Two consecutive games is your best bet but make sure that neither of the games are split squad. The best place to stand for an autograph is section 117. The players that are not playing that day will generally come out and sign; especially if there are a lot of kids. Grass seats can be purchased the day of the game so even if you can’t get tickets you can bring a blanket and soak up the sun in the outfield. If you don’t get enough of the team by going to the games you can go to any of their practices and observe. The team practices every morning at 9am unless they have a home game that day. The practice fields are located across the parking lot of the Maryvale Stadium. There are 5 practice fields and the team plays a ‘game’ at 10am that you can also watch. There are no fees for parking or observing the practices.
After the game we drove three hours north to Williams, Az. On the way we stopped off in Flagstaff and on the suggestion of one of our clients and ate at Diablo Burger. This very tiny joint has earned itself a stamp in the 51 Great Burger joints across America. All of the food is made from locally grown farmers, including the beef which is 100% grass-fed with no added hormones. Let me just tell you this burger was so thick you could barely get your mouth around the whole thing! It was a neat experience but expensive.
I booked a package through the Grand Canyon Railway that included a one night hotel stay, train ride round-trip from Williams to the South Rim, and a motor coach tour upon arrival at the Grand Canyon. The total cost for my family of four with a travel agent discount was $352.27. The railway has a hotel right at the depot which provides easy access either before or after your day trip to the canyon. The depot has a Wild West show before the train departs. This is cute for the kids, corny for the adults. The train departs every day at 9am and travels at a whopping 40mph north to the canyon. I was expecting the train to go faster than that but when we asked our car hostess she informed us the tracks were built back in the 1950’s and can’t handle higher speeds. The ride takes 2 hours and 15 minutes and there is plenty of entertainment that comes through the cars throughout that time. The train has a snack car or you are welcome to bring on your own food and drinks. Upon arrival at the canyon we were directed straight to our motor coach for our tour. The tour last about an hour and consists of two outer rim view point stops. Our driver Oscar was very entertaining and informative. After we returned from the tour we opted for one of the restaurants in the park for lunch. We waited an hour for our food and ended up have to get it to go. Needless to say the service is not up to par and I would suggest one of the walk through cafeterias vs. a sit down place unless you have plenty of time on your hands to wait. The train departs promptly at 330pm to head back to Williams and will leave with or without you…no waiting for missing passengers so you must keep track of time! Again there were several things to keep you entertained including a special surprise at the end of the ride. (I won’t spoil it) I would recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see the canyon but doesn’t want to spend days there. NOTES: This tour does not stop at the location of the south rim where the skywalk is located. The skywalk is about 40 miles west so if you are one who would dare to walk out on the skywalk this tour will not be for you! The temperature fluctuates daily at the canyon so check the weather and dress accordingly before you go. Most often you will need much warmer clothing (pants, jacket, hat). There are very few railings at the canyon so good walking shoes with traction are a must especially if you go on any of the trails.
There are so many other attractions and things to do in the area that we just didn’t have enough time to get to! We will definitely go back; and for a longer period of time since none of us wanted to come home!